ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Navy's most technologically advanced warship, guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), conducted a burial at sea Oct. 23 in the Atlantic Ocean.
The ceremony honored the duty and service of Marine Col. Michael Spiro, who served as the longtime aide de camp to the ship's namesake, Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., Spiro was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Stanford University in 1950. He served in the Korea and Vietnam conflicts and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, five air medals, and the Navy Achievement Medal. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1976.
"We had the opportunity to honor the lifelong deeds of Colonel Michael Spiro and his service to the Marine Corps and to Admiral Zumwalt," said Capt. James A. Kirk, commanding officer of Zumwalt. "Colonel Spiro's deeds will live on through USS Zumwalt's crew members as they strive to attain higher levels of dedication and discipline each day."
Following Zumwalt's death Jan. 2, 2000, Spiro volunteered to escort his remains from Durham, North Carolina, to Annapolis, Maryland, where Zumwalt was buried at the United States Naval Academy cemetery.
Sailors of Zumwalt visited the grave shared by Zumwalt and his wife, Mouza, to honor the legacy of their ship's namesake Oct. 13.
"The visit gave us a chance to reflect on the distinguished career and accomplishments of Adm. Zumwalt and the lasting impact he had on the Navy," said Kirk.
Spiro's son, Peter, transferred the urn containing his father's remains to Capt. Scott A. Tait, executive officer of Zumwalt, Oct. 14. The ship's operations at sea following her Oct. 15 commissioning ceremony in Baltimore provided a unique opportunity for the ship to return the favor, by escorting Spiro to his eternal rest.
The ceremony took place on a brisk Sunday morning, in which a formation of Zumwalt Sailors stood smartly at attention, while a Navy chaplain provided words of solace through an invocation.
A rifle detail rendered a salute to the late Spiro with a 21-gun burst, before Tait commended Spiro's ashes to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
"It was a humbling experience to have the privilege of helping to honor a Marine and patriot, especially someone who was so important to our ship's namesake," said Tait.
The tolling of three solitary bells and the sounding of "Taps" brought the ceremony to a close.
"Colonel Spiro is now eternally bonded with the ship, and his legacy will never be forgotten," said Tait.
The burial at sea ceremony is a time-honored, naval tradition that allows Sailors to remember and pay tribute to deceased service members.
"The ceremony reminds us to be vigilant and dutiful," Kirk commented on the promise of today's service members to carry on the tradition started by past generations. "Through honoring Colonel Spiro, we are reminded that we are responsible for protecting our brothers and sisters in arms, and our actions every day should reflect the gravity of that responsibility."
Named for Zumwalt, former chief of naval operations from 1970 to 1974, the Zumwalt-class destroyer features a state-of-the-art electric propulsion system, a wave-piercing tumblehome hull, stealth design, and the latest warfighting technology and weaponry available.
A veteran of World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, Zumwalt exemplified honor, courage, and commitment during 32 years of dedicated naval service, earning a Bronze Star with Valor for his actions during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Zumwalt is scheduled to begin her transit to her new homeport of San Diego. Once fully integrated into the surface fleet, Zumwalt's stealth, power, and lethality will provide a vital link from the Navy's current needs to its future capabilities.
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